Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The electoral commission publishes the (partial) list of voters

The Congolese electoral commission has now put up a partial list of voters on its website here. For those of you with some free time, you can go through the tens of thousands of pages of voters who registered to vote. The commission has not put up the whole list, just three provinces (Bas-Congo, Kasai Occidental and Maniema).

Does this solve the controversy over an audit of the voter register? Maybe, but it the format of the document probably does not lend itself to identification of double or triple registrations (the famous "doublons") through computer programs. And if political parties want to make sure the no foreigners, ghost voters or children registered, they will have to decentralize the audit to their local offices in the provinces, where party officials would have to check the names registered in an area with the local population - an almost impossible task (the CENI list breaks it down to the level of neighborhood/groupement - still a very large area).


Anand said...

Sorry if this question seems silly but...How does a partial list comprised of three provinces "maybe" solve the controversy over an audit of the voter register? Seems like a partial list published by a potential "auditee" (not auditor)doesn't solve much of anything...

Anonymous said...

I really believe this effort on the voter rolls, while important, isn't germane to ensure the actual vote is sound.

That would require both international, and more importantly, Congolese observers on E-Day. By focusing so intensely on auditing the rolls, getting access to the central server, and using the courts to overturn party lists, the opposition is wasting precious time to build out a field network to campaign, get out the vote, and the recruitment of observers.

Since so many Congolese have cell phones doing so would be fairly low cost which could narrow the overwhelming advantages of Kabila's party. Doing this would also narrow the likely vote buying/traditional leader voting blocs that Kabila is counting on given these forms of voter coercion are less viable among the young- the swing vote of this election as we've seen in Nigeria, Zambia, and quite likely in Liberia next week.

Honestly, enough about the rolls and server. Kabila is likely smiling at this elaborate trap he has set for his opponents given they seem so willing to fall into it.

It is way past time to organize and, in particular, Congolese observers.


Anonymous said...

I think the opposition parties should concentrate their efforts in sending observers / poll agents to the over 60 000 polling stations and stop wasting their time with management of the server, which in respect doesn't even do any tallying of the votes counted.


Anonymous said...


This stuff about the roles, the server, and the lists in districts is an unnecessary distration.

It is time to organize poll workers/monitors/observers in the Congo. Short of this, and we will not get to a solid vote.

This is a distraction.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bryce, Mwafrika, and Paolo for speaking the truth.

Jason Stearns said...

@Anand - I am assuming that the rest of the electoral districts will be published in the coming days, in which case it will no longer be a partial list.

@Paolo, Bryce & Mwafrika - Of course, there needs to be rigorous organization of electoral observers. The local networks in particular need to be beefed up - at the moment, the Catholic church has promised a large effort, but I don't think the political parties are ready. The reason I have been insisting on the electoral roll is that a flawed roll makes monitoring on election day difficult - if a voter was registered four times in different offices, or if foreigners/children registered it will make it very difficult for an observer in the polling office to detect fraud. All they will see is a legitimate voter walking with a valid voter ID (except if it is a 7 year-old).

Anand said...

@ Jason – Thanks for the clarification. That makes more sense. Though, as an inexperienced outside observer, I still have questions about the accuracy of a list published by the electoral commission.

The argument that an accurate voter roll is necessary for observers to do their job properly seems very sound. Otherwise, what are you observing? What are you cross checking against? If an election is going to be viewed as fair, don’t all of these moving parts have to be in unison?

Another question… How does the process of organizing local observers work? How transparent is it and who does it? Maybe someone knows how this was handled in 2006. And what outside observers were present in 2006? I am somewhat asking to see if there will be a consistent model between the two elections. If a democracy is to coalesce and progress, there has to be consistency (as well as refinement) in these types of processes from cycle to cycle. I almost feel like the development of a fair system is as important as the election results.

Anonymous said...


I think you are confusing or obscuring two things-voter count and voter identification. In a biometric system, it is nearly impossible to engage in the type of fraud you are concerned with- be it multiple registrations, youngsters, or foreigners.

Having been a long time poll worker in Miami Dade County, an observer in Haiti, and one in 2006 in the Congo, let me lay out what observers will do.

The international standard for observers is to do the following in each poll:’

- count the number of ballots before voting begins
- count the number of people who enter and vote in the poll, cross check against the database
- count the number of unused ballots, doubles, minors, etc.
- assist with determining voter intent of the ballot is filled out wrong.

If the final number, minus step 3, is higher or lower than step 2, we likely have fraud. If they match we don’t and the actual vote tallying begins in earnest. The final step is ensuring all these numbers match between observers and poll workers. In such a system, it is theoretically possible for fraud to occur but highly unlikely given 2 rounds crosschecks. (round 1 what I layed out and 2 the crosscheck with the server)

Now, it is entirely possible that in places without observers- which from your reporting here is going to be most polls- for either these systems to not be in place or a more classic type of fraud- ballot stuffing or discarding. In the former case, ballots are “cast” by the fraudster and added in the pile. In the latter, perhaps bribed poll workers discard ballots cast in favor of the “opponent”. But even here, a voter ballot only counts when crosschecked against the server and if its clear they have already voted.shouldn’t vote or, in the cases I just cited, they didn’t put their stamp via ink their finger when they entered that vote either doesn’t count or is counted once.

This is the beauty of a biometric and/or server systems.

Bottomline: the last and final line of defense against fraud is trained observers.

If there are not 62,000 of them come November then we have a problem.

The integrity of the rolls, while critical, shouldn’t consume the opposition as it is right now. I understand yours and others concerns but, given the regime we are dealing with here, it is tangential to ensuring the integrity of the final vote and is quite likely a trap.

I know this may seem provocative but we must have observers in these polls and recruiting and training them (atleast 1 per poll) must consume our energies at this point.

The fraud train left the station quite some time ago.

Anonymous said...

I am in complete agreement with the the Anonymous poster, Bryce and the others.

We must move forward with observers with all due speed.

Here is an article from a presidential candidate in Kenya who observed the polls recently in Zambia.

Anonymous said...

I agree as much as there might be double registry in the voter registry,or even triple registry of an individual in different stations, it still begs the question that is unless the said individual rushes through lets say three polling stations and personally votes on the election day which is also not easy then the opposition parties should focus their energies at the polling stations and pay less attention on the server bit.(i'm certain that's what Kabila is doing)

Secondly the votes counted at the polling stations where presumably the opposition parties will have their party agents MUST be insync with what will be announced by CENI in Kinshasa.


Rich said...

I, personally find it a bit unfair when some of us are putting the name Kabila or regime in the same sentence with words like fraud, trap etc... Somehow suggesting that the majority in power is the only entity to be capable of fraud. Elections in 2006 revealed that the opposition too engaged in electoral fraud; althought both side's fraudulent ballots were not statistically significant.

I think if we want fair elections, we ought to have a fair and balanced language when describing various intities involved in this.

Anonymous said...

The Anonymous poster (the former observer) and Rich’s points are rather salient.

Since the first line of defense (the rolls) is likely or could be compromised, the next line absolutely must be observers. There are others, like clearly be prepared to file suit if its clear vote tampering ensues, but we gotta get to more and well trained observers and very soon.

The best defense is always a good offense. At this point, the issue about the rolls is just a (understandable) distraction.


Anonymous said...

Interesting debate.

Let's not forget: the Electoral Commission should have released the voter lists on Sept 28th, in accordance with article 6 of the revised electoral law.
They have not so far, except for three provinces and on their website only (note: the voter registration in two of these three provinces was implemented by the former CEI).
Technically, CENI is therefore in an illegal situation.

Why? This is n essential question, as CENI reported two months ago already that the clean list was available, as it should be, since it was the basis of seat sharing between provinces in the annex to the electoral law of August.
There is a lot of good reasons to be insisting for both clarifications of the CENI about the voter registration, and for a release without delay of the list, to enable people to check if they have been duly registered.
Indeed the last line of defense is observation of the E-Day (the first one could have been observation of the voter registration, but int'l community missed this opportunity). But it may be too early to give up on this penultimate line we are discussing now.

One very simple question needs at least to be replied: if the document presented by Congo Siasa is indeed a report of ZETES, it means that ZETES identified for example 278,039 duplicates in Bandundu.
CENI reported that the clean-up process led to remove 119,940 duplicates from the raw list.
How can the figure of CENI for the entire country be lower than the figure of ZETES for Bandundu?


Anand said...

Learning a lot from the discussion...

@K - Interesting points. It does seem there are many reasons to want a sound voter registry. For me, even if the push should now be to set up observation, the info about the voter registry is important, enlightening, and worth reporting/discussion.

Anonymous said...


Most electoral rigging that happens in Africa and when indeed it happens occurs at polling stations, this is both in the perceived government strong holds and opposition popular areas.

Meaning either party might want to participate in some form of rigging, be it the government in place or the opposition parties wanting to come "in",hence my instance of having many party agents and poll observers.


Anand said...

@ Mwafrika

I totally agree. I hope it didn't seem I am down playing the importance of observers or implying that only incumbents could participate in rigging. I am just seeing the issue of need for observers and voter registry as parts of the same equation. As a new observer of Congolese politics, all of these reports and discussions are valuable to me because they give me insight into the current ruling party, the opposition, the types of fraud that can occur, etc. Several articles I have read in the Congolese press seem to focus on the registry as well as other concerns (i.e. need for observers, etc) I do understand that with the elections looming, the need for organizing observation is great. I am concerned that a consistent system be established for these things in the DRC. It is as important as the personalities involved and should be established in a systematic way. That way, next time around, there is less of a mad scramble to set observation up. Hopefully, eventually, the Congolese can trust the consistency of the process.

Anonymous said...


It seems we are reading from the same script,but maybe different books.

You see in Kenya as citizens our concerns and efforts were only focused on the incumbent rigging the elections, but when it became apparent that the opposition parties had also "organized" some form of rigging in their perceived strong holds even the government was found flat footed and had to improvise late in the game.

Thats why eventually we witnessed what is commonly referred to as the post elections violence.


Anand said...

@ Mwafrika

Number one, thanks for the continued discussion and for the insight into Kenya. Based on your post, it seems that too great a focus on any one part of an election or any one party, can lead to dire consequences. I hope that things get as organized as possible in the Congo so we don't see any similar post election fallout.

Anonymous said...

LUKOLELA ATTACTED LIED.LUKOLELA ATTACTED LIED DRC Congo government and Ceni are unable to organise the combine election for 2011. But no one wants to take the responsibility for it, instead they looking for a scape goat to justified it. few days ago they tried to create a failed virtual attack from lukolela and the interior deputy premier Minister report to the population, the men came from Brazzaville to destabilise the country. Brazzaville reply straight away the attack was create by DRC government unable to organise the elections. on Wednesday Radio Okapi report that The same minister went in Brazzaville Tuesday and denied is own declaration said one day before, and said it's was a quick reaction from is government (It's means not verified information)Creating stupid tension between two closed neighbours for no reason. this event shows clearly that DRC Government is not willing to organise the 2011 Election knowing they will lose it. It's a shame for such government irresponsible. God They Should Go

Sunga Congo

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a few folks could help me understand something about politics in the DRC.

Is the absence of a functioning state the cause of the its myriad of political problems (rebellions, tribalism, a weak opposition, impunity, etc) or is its political system-as constituted- making it impossible for a functioning state to emerge?

And just to be clear, I’d prefer answers don’t begin with “well, if Washington did/didn’t do X then” or “well, if Kigali did/didn’t do Y then”. Foreign influence is a variable to the nation’s problems but, given all nation’s are subject to this influence in one form or another, it isn’t determinative.


Anonymous said...

Great question, Lie. Often pondered it myself.

Radio Okapi's website has an interesting poll up that quotes Vital basically saying that a good election will lead to change. One of the poll options is basically that that's only possible if observers are in the polls.

Its the most popular choice among Okapi's readers.

Sure, this isn't a scientific poll but it is a gauge of what the grassroots feel about the need for observers.

Anonymous said...

Yes, observe, observe, observe, but has been said before, stealing elections on voting day is for amateurs.
Mungwa Pierre

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